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The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising Sequence) Paperback – October 1, 1999
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"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back,With these mysterious words, Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that trouble the land. His task is monumental: he must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light, which, when joined, will create a force strong enough to match and perhaps overcome that of the Dark. Embarking on this endeavor is dangerous as well as deeply rewarding; Will must work within a continuum of time and space much broader than he ever imagined.
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone."
Susan Cooper, in her five-title Dark Is Rising sequence, creates a world where the conflict between good and evil reaches epic proportions. She ranks with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien in her ability to deliver a moral vision in the context of breathtaking adventure. No one can stop at just one of her thrilling fantasy novels. Among many other prestigious awards, The Dark Is Rising is a Newbery Honor Book and a Carnegie Medal Honor Book. (Ages 8 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
"Susan Cooper is one of the few contemporary writers who has the vivid imagination, the narrative power, and the moral vision that permit her to create the kind of sweeping conflict between good and evil that lies at the heart of all great fantasy. Tolkien had it. So did C. S. Lewis. And Cooper writes in the same tradition." -- "Psychology Today"
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This book reminded me of a cross between the Chronicles of Narnia, with a group of children being the main subjects solving the mystery. It also reminded me a little of the Goonies because they find a map and follow it's clues while being persued by the bad guys. I loved the idea that this is a children's quest for a grail, and that it involved Arthurian legend. I thought the simple twist of Merry's real name was something that would intrigue a child.
The book starts out when Simon, Jane, and Barney Drew arrive in Cornwall with their family for a holiday. Great-Uncle Merry, or Gumerry, has rented the Grey House for them to stay in. They spot a beautiful white yacht in the harbor immediately and are intrigued by it. On a rainy day the children go exploring in the huge house and find a mysterious map in a corner of the attic. Simon, with his limited Latin, makes out "Mark and Arthur" on it. After debating which adult they should confide in they decide to include Great-Uncle Merry. Merry explains to them that fairy tales are based off of real things but muddled with time. With his help they decifer where to start looking. Off on the quest they go!
The book shows a glimpse of an England I'm not sure still exists, and a family I'd like to join. There is magic and adventure, but also love and patience and faith.
"This night will be bad. And tomorrow will be beyond imagining." Susan Cooper is a gifted writer and she sets a mood of foreboding creepiness right from the beginning. While there is an almost constant aura of menace, there is minimal violence, and Will constantly learns lessons of bravery, honor, and the importance of knowledge and learning. Sort of H. P. Lovecraft meets the Hardy Boys.
I agree with some criticism that there is too little struggle and problem solving involved in actually getting the six signs Will needs to find, but the story is still strong and a worthwhile read for middle readers.